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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/11/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Pam and Martin Wygod’s After Market, 2-1 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Arlington Million XXV, was unexpectedly withdrawn the morning of the race due to less-than-firm track conditions.
“Unfortunately, the weather in Chicago the previous week was so rainy, the turf course hasn’t completely dried out yet,” said After Market’s trainer John Shirreffs, speaking over the phone while still in Chicago. “The horse is doing great. He’s just fantastic, but Mr. Wygod recommended that we don’t run him on soft ground. I’ve been out on the course every day since I’ve been here. It’s drying out, but it’s not quite fast enough yet.”
After impressively winning Del Mar’s Grade I Eddie Read Handicap July 22 over a Southern California course rated “firm,” After Market deservingly earned the favorite’s mantle for Arlington’s Grade I showcase race. In his previous effort, the 4-year-old colt had won Hollywood’s Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap June 9, but that outing was also over firm ground.
Defending Arlington Million champion The Tin Man, owned by Ralph and Aury Todd, will now inherit the morning line favorite’s role in the 2007 Arlington Million.
Arlington Park track superintendent Javier Barajas, encountered on the turf course just shortly after training hours, but before the news of After Market’s defection was announced, was using a soil compaction tester to measure the condition of the turf course at that time.
“Right now, I would call the turf course ‘yielding,’” said Barajas, “but with this sunshine we have today, by the time the first graded stakes (Grade I Secretariat Stakes as the seventh race of the afternoon, post time 3:15 p.m. Central Time) goes off, I believe the course might be rated ‘good.’”
Ralph and Aury Todd’s The Tin Man, defending champion in the Grade I Arlington Million after tallying by a length in 2006, is in a position to become the first horse to win the Million in back-to-back renewals.
However, he would not be the first horse to win the Million twice. Dotsam Stable’s legendary John Henry took the inaugural running in 1981, and came back to win it again in 1984.
Also, John Henry was a 9-year-old when he won Arlington Million IV – the same age that The Tin Man is this summer.
Seven years ago, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey put his personal stamp on the International Festival of Racing at Arlington Park when he became the first and only jockey in history to win the Grade I Arlington Million and the Grade I Beverly D. in the same year.
Now, of course, the ultimate afternoon for a jockey during the International Festival of Racing at Arlington Park would be to sweep the Million, the Beverly D. and the Secretariat Stakes on Saturday afternoon.
Three jockeys will have a chance to accomplish that sweep this weekend, and two of them are former Arlington Park riding champions.
Robby Albarado, Arlington’s leading rider in 1996, is already in the midst of a career year with victories in Pimlico’s Grade I Preakness aboard Curlin and Churchill’s Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap on Flashy Bull.
Albarado will ride Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s Lattice in the Secretariat, Shadwell Stable’s Lahudood in the Beverly D. and Kingfield Farms’ Jambalaya in the Arlington Million.
Garrett Gomez, who garnered local leading rider honors in 1997, also swept Arlington’s Mid-America Triple that year astride Robert Schaedle III’s Honor Glide.
Gomez returns to Chicago Saturday to ride Peachtree Stable’s Red Giant in the Secretariat, Glencrest Farm LLC’s Honey Ryder in the Beverly D. and Aaron and Marie Jones’ Sunriver in the Million.
Julien Leparoux, who won the Beverly D. last year astride Gorella, owned by Martin Schwartz and trained by Patrick Biancone, will try to win his second straight Beverly D. and that owner-trainer duo’s third straight aboard Lady of Venice.
However, Leparoux will also ride Triple B Farms’ Shamdinan in the Secretariat and Fab Oak Stable, Bobby Hurley and John Goldthorpe’s Stream Cat in Arlington Million XXV.
No trainer has ever saddled the winners of all three Festival races in the same season, although defending Eclipse Award winning conditioner Todd Pletcher is in a position to do so Saturday afternoon.
Pletcher will saddle two horses in Saturday’s Secretariat Stakes – Peachtree Stable’s Red Giant and Edward Evans’ Pleasant Strike. In the Beverly D. Stakes, Pletcher will be represented by Glencrest Farm LLC’s Honey Ryder, and by Aaron and Marie Jones’ Sunriver in the Million.
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